American Anthrax Outbreak

Topics: Anthrax, Bioterrorism, 2001 anthrax attacks Pages: 6 (2276 words) Published: March 25, 2013
Yanik Desai
Anthrax Research Paper
The outbreak I will be studying is the anthrax bioterrorism of 2001. The outbreak began in the Florida Postal Service and spread throughout the entire nation over a short period of time. The epidemic unofficially began on October 4th when there were findings of anthrax in the mail, but the first reported case/illness was on October 12th, 2001. The causative agent of anthrax is Bacillus Anthracis (American Anthrax). Although the anthrax issue was unknown to many before 2001, the bioterrorism opened everyone’s eyes about how deadly anthrax can be. Bacillus anthracis is the bacterium that causes anthrax and bacillus anthracis is also the scientific name used by scientists. Bacillus anthracis is the aerobic (needs air), spore forming bacteria that grows well in the body, especially on blood. The bacteria grows and lives in the soil, and when livestock graze in the soil, or eat from it, they become infected with anthrax. From the animal, the anthrax is passed to the animal owner and onto the customer. Like I said, anthrax can be transmitted through the food, from skin contact with the bacteria, and by the inhalation of the spores. Although it seems Bacillus anthracis is evil, there is no need to fear because there is a way to inactivate the spore’s success. Three ways are paraformaldehyde vapor, five percent of hypochlorite or phenol solution, or by autoclaving. When spores are in an area full of blood or tissues, they develop more in those areas, causing the bacteria to double and triple in size and the anthrax to become more deadly (Who | Zoonotic Infections). There are three types of anthrax a person can obtain: cutaneous, gastrointestinal, and inhalation anthrax. Since they all involve different parts of the body, they all have different symptoms. Cutaneous anthrax affects the skin and occurs when people with cuts or sores come in contact with the anthrax bacteria. Inhalation anthrax affects the lungs and occurs when a person inhales the spores (not literally, they inhale the bacteria from the spores). The final major type of anthrax someone can obtain is gastrointestinal anthrax, or GI. GI affects the digestive system and someone can get GI if they eat infected meat (Anthrax: MedlinePlus). Symptoms are different for each type of anthrax since they each affect different parts of the body. The symptoms for cutaneous anthrax include a bump where the cut is and it swells into something that looks like an insect bite. After a while, the spot will develop into a sore that has a black center. Cutaneous anthrax is the most common type of anthrax and is not as deadly as inhalation anthrax and GI. Some symptoms for inhalation anthrax include flu symptoms and chest pains. As time goes on, the symptoms get worse and turn into high fever and trouble breathing. Inhalation anthrax is the deadliest of the three main types of anthrax and the result is usually death. Gastrointestinal anthrax is the last type of main anthrax and it is the deadliest. GI has many symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, bloody stool, and a sore throat that leads to the swelling of the neck and trouble breathing (Mayo Clinic Staff). Although there is a certain group of people more susceptible to obtaining anthrax, this case did not show that those people were affected. People more susceptible to getting anthrax include scientists/people who work in a lab that handles anthrax, people that handle animal skin or fur from places at high risk of anthrax, farmers who work with livestock, and vets that handle the infected animals (Mayo Clinic Staff). Although these people can acquire all three types of anthrax, they are more likely to get the inhalation anthrax because all they have to do is breath in the bacteria and it is all around them. During the outbreak, there were only twenty-two cases reported and five of the people that were infected died from the infection. Although five cases do not sound like a lot of...
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